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Archive for June, 2014

Bless This Mess

June 27th, 2014

Blessed is the man . . [who is] like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” Psalm 1:3 NKJV.

Blessing doesn’t mean having more; blessing means enjoying more what you have.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “bless this mess.”

I don’t even remember how long I have known my friend, Betty; it seems forever. In all those years, her response to my sincere inquiry, “How are you, Betty,” has always been – every single time – “Pastor, I am blessed.” I know for a fact that her life has been far from easy – but rain or shine, tears or smiles – her answer has never varied, “Pastor, I am blessed.” She has discovered a truth that most people rarely find, “The Lord’s blessing is our greatest wealth. All our work adds nothing to it.” Proverbs 10:22 TLB.

Everyone wants to be blessed. People are just confused as to what being blessed looks like. People wrongly presume blessing is evidenced by having stuff – more stuff or better stuff. Blessing does not mean having more of what you enjoy; blessing means enjoying more what you have. As properly used, the word involves an understanding of gracious and generous benevolence that comes to you from vastly more than the fruit of your own efforts. The reality is that everyone experiences blessings far more than what has been earned or deserved. To me, the concept of blessing embraces what is added to your life by both the favor of God and the kindness of others. Why would you be willing to live without either of those?

I saw one of those household plaques that simply read, “Bless this mess!” I smiled because I could envision kitchens and houses – and some marriages, families, and lives – for which those wistful words could be appropriate. The problem is this: God doesn’t bless a mess; He will redeem your mess, if you bring it to Him in sincerity and humility. Blessing is experienced where grace is received. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8 NKJV.

David understood the mercy and grace of God but also learned the requirements. Read Psalm 32:1-5/51:7-13 NKJV. David also learned where blessedness awaits: “Blessed is the man . . [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-4 NKJV. See Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV.

Moses spoke God’s promise of blessing for Israel with these words, “All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock . . Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.” Read Deuteronomy 28:2-13 NIV.

God’s promises certainly are not less under grace than they were under the Law. Paul could hardly contain his joy and wonder at the thought, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is to know the blessedness of those who serve God with their whole heart.

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Be Exemplary

June 24th, 2014

“In everything, set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7 NIV.

Be exemplary; follow Christ fully and consistently.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “be exemplary.”

Mistakes. Everyone makes them. You can learn from mistakes, yours and others. In fact, you should learn from your mistakes; if you don’t, you are destined to repeat them. It’s best if you learn to minimize the number of mistakes you make, especially the ones you seem to repeat. However, there is a better way. You can and should learn from the example and instruction of others. The example of others can teach you what to do right, as well as what to avoid.

The Apostle Paul was bold to say, “Pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Philippians 3:17-18 NLT. There are plenty of opportunities if you are willing to look, listen, and learn from the example and experience of others – valuing their successes while avoiding their failures. Read 1 Corinthians 10:6-13 NIV.

I count myself as fortunate. Across my lifetime, God has sovereignly placed Godly examples in my life. I still have plenty of room for improvement but I am far better than I would have been without them. Regrettably, I have not always lived up to their standard, but I steadfastly value their experience and example. My goal is as Paul’s focus, “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me to be.”  Read Philippians 3:12-14 NLT.

From my Dad and Mom, I learned a lot about life and integrity in relationships and ministry. From spiritual fathers, I continue to learn about personal and spiritual disciplines and the sacred priority of marriage and family. From friends, I am learning about the importance and responsibilities of meaningful friendships. From pastoring those who entrusted their souls to my care, I continue to learn the sanctity and sacrifice of ministry.

I have a great debt to repay, which suggests another side to consider in this matter. Are you helping others learn from your experiences? Read 2 Thessalonians 3:7 NIV. Be exemplary. “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV. Those certainly were not intended as an exhaustive list you can check off and be done with it. Those are the elemental and essential qualities of spiritual life, upon which all other Godly behavior rests.

Spiritual growth rests solidly upon the fundamentals of practical, spiritual life. Without those you may work diligently on correct conduct apart from the underlying strength of Godly character that sustains such behavior. “God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory . . so that we may present everyone perfect in [their relationship with] Christ.” Colossians 1:27-28 NIV/NLT.

Apart from “Christ in you,” there can be no “hope of glory,” in the lives we live. Jesus left you a sure path to follow, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NIV. Be exemplary; follow Christ fully and consistently. Paul got it right, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is to be sure whose example you follow and who is following yours.

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Repairing and Restoring

June 20th, 2014

“You shall be the ‘Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.’” Isaiah 58:12 NKJV.

Once broken, few things are as difficult to repair or replace as trust.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “repairing and restoring.”

Broken. What image comes to mind? Discarding something that doesn’t matter and won’t be missed? Or holding something broken but now irreplaceable? Everyone has experienced something being broken. Sometimes, that may be trust, or hearts, or friendships. Sometimes, you may be responsible, or it may have been someone else. Remember this: many things can often be fixed, or easily replaced. People, not so easily.

Friendships and family relationships are the most priceless and irreplaceable things that you are ever privileged to have and hold. The longer you have had them, the more irreplaceable they become. Hold them carefully with the fondness and regard they deserve. Once broken, few things are as difficult to repair or replace as trust. When harsh words, thoughtless actions, improper conduct or just unintended neglect breach the trust level in a relationship, there comes a growing distance between hearts that is often felt even before it is known. Brokenness must be repaired and trust restored promptly and fully. Read Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV/Psalm 133:1-3 NIV.

Move wisely, but quickly, to bridge relational separation. Doing so both minimizes the damage and demonstrates the value you place on the individual and relationship. No one promises it would be easy. “It’s harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars. Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.” Proverbs 18:19-20 NLT. Delay gives unhealthy, even unholy, opportunity for imagination to misinterpret and magnify offences.

David felt the traumatic pain of a friend’s disloyalty. “It is not an enemy who taunts me – I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me – I could have hidden from them.  Instead, it is you – my equal, my companion and close friend.  What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14 NLT. Misunderstandings occur between the best of people, but the person and relationship are always more important than your hurt feelings or disappointment.

You are called to live in communion with God and in unity with one another. Communion suffers where unity is lacking. “Live in harmony with each other. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.” Romans 12:15-18 NLT. You cannot control what others choose, but you are responsible for what you choose to do, either initially or in reaction to another person.

When you break another’s trust, apologize quickly and ask forgiveness sincerely. When your trust has been broken, forgive unilaterally and immediately, asking God for His sufficient grace. Remember all you have been forgiven. ”Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall be called the ‘Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.’” Isaiah 58:12 NKJV. There are blessings if you do and consequences when you don’t. And what will the Lord do for you, when you repair and restore? “’For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17 NAS.

Today, my prayer for you is to be first to offer forgiveness and the last to inflict harm.

A personal note: today’s devotional thoughts mark a milestone for EDL of 1,100 devotionals in the archives available at the website for you at – www.allenrandolph.com.

They cover a wide spectrum of helpful Bible verses and practical topics for you to browse at your leisure, consult for personal study, share with a friend, neighbor, or co-worker, or use as a resource for leading a Bible Study. Gayle and I thank each of you for your appreciation and partnership in the ministry of EveryDay Life . . Blessings!

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A Debt To Be Paid

June 17th, 2014
“Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt you owe each other.” Romans 13:8 MSG.

Financial debt is not advisable; relational debt is not avoidable.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a debt to be paid.”

In today’s culture, debt has become a way of life. Debt results from your buying things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people who don’t care. You are repeatedly told that the world’s economy depends upon it, all to persuade you of the impossibility of living without debt. But you can, and you should. The world’s economy relies upon an increasing rate of consumption. To business, you are a consumer; the more you consume, the happier “they “ are, whoever that is.

The evil genius of credit cards has made resistance nearly impossible. Marketing persuades you to believe you always need more, and better, and newer, and bigger, therefore more expensive. Actually, your needs are not more; your wants are. In today’s culture, debt has become a way of life. Increasing consumption supplies neither security nor satisfaction; it provides only a growing balance of personal indebtedness. Debt is never satisfying. Debt breeds more debt.

I grew up in a modest, but comfortable home. We never had too much, but we never seemed to have too little. I was taught that all you have and what you earn comes from God through His blessing on your honest labor. James 1:17-18 NLT. Therefore, the first portion is given back to God as a tithe, in recognition of His benevolence and obedience for His continued blessing. Malachi 3:8-12 NKJV. After that, everything you have is a matter of stewardship, not ownership. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV.

From my Dad’s advice, I learned that if I never spend all that I earn, I would always have a little extra when needed. That became a rule of stewardship and personal economy that I still follow today. Most importantly, that Godly advice works. Life is simpler; worries are less; financial freedom is greater. And in that restraint, you learn some practical measure of when enough is enough.

Financial debt is not advisable. Relational debt is not avoidable. “Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt you owe each other.” Romans 13:8 MSG. This verse has always seemed an unusual pairing to me – financial debt and a loving lifestyle. I believe they are mutually exclusive. You are told to avoid debt; you are taught to fulfill love. Here’s how they both relate and differ. Both are obligations to which you bind yourself by free choice.

Financial debt is about satisfying you and your wants. Relational debt is about serving others and their needs. The greater your financial debts, the more preoccupied you become with yourself and the less thought and means you have left for others. Financial debt concerns you with paying your bills, satisfying your wants, and absorbing your extra. Relational debt redirects you toward giving instead of getting, meeting others’ needs before your wants, and returning the good you have received.

Just as debt engenders more debt, love will engender more love. God’s Word is always the best counsel, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NAS. God’s way is always the best way. You have a debt to be paid.

Today, my prayer for you is to understand that debt will cause you to sacrifice the ultimate for the immediate.

07237

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Reflections About My Dad

June 13th, 2014

“I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 NKJV.

 Live to leave a Godly legacy to your family and Godly generations to come.

My thoughts and comments today are, “reflections about my dad.”

The Godly influence of my father in what I believe, what I do, and who I have become is undeniable, his significance to my life continuing long after his lifetime. Some time ago, I came across a yellowed note from my Mom, written twenty years earlier. As I read her words, I was unprepared for my emotional response. She wrote about our family and ministry, but these words leaped off the page and into my heart, “Your Dad would be so proud of you, as I am.”

You see my Dad died in a highway accident when I was just 21, newly married, and just a senior in college, and still my eyes became moist as I read those words. It was not a new revelation. My Dad showed and spoke often of his sentiments in our home. Yet somehow even now, those words of his pride stir something deep within my heart. I was not prepared for how such a simple statement of my parents’ feelings on a piece of yellowed stationery would still mean so much after all of these years since his death, and more recently hers.

Solomon wrote, “The father of the righteous has great joy; he who has a wise child delights in them.” Proverbs 23:24 NIV. You have the power to bless your parents with joy. I marvel at the profound truth that a father’s joy can touch your heart throughout both their lifetime and yours. At this mature stage of my life, being reminded of my Dad’s love and pride in me meant as much if not more, as it did when I was young and he was living.

My Dad left an exemplary spiritual legacy and from him I and our family have received a Godly heritage. Every parent has an opportunity to do the same. “For you, O God, have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” Psalm 61:5 NIV. You may not have been given a spiritual heritage, but you can live to leave a Godly legacy to your family and the generations to come. A family’s future doesn’t have to replicate its history. A Godly, family heritage can begin with a new spiritual legacy, starting today with you.

John’s words ring true, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 NKJV. Whatever accomplishments with which God has since graced my life, my Dad would be most proud that I carry on the faith I learned at his knee and from his pulpit. He was both my Dad and my pastor.

Imagine how Jesus felt at the Jordan River when hearing God declare, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” You can feel His Father’s joy and delight, and realize the emotional and spiritual strengthening that Jesus experienced as He purposed to do the Father’s will. The Father’s pride was more in who Jesus was, than what He would do.

Now as a Dad, grandfather, and great grandfather, I know what such delight feels like. When I see the good and Godly man, husband, and dad (and now grandfather) that our son has become, and the Godly woman, wife, and mom that our daughter has become, and young adult grandchildren who love and live for Jesus, Gayle and I are grateful to God for His kindness to the Randolph families, and anticipate future generations yet to be.

Joy and delight hardly describes the satisfaction that we find in knowing our children and their spouses along with our grandchildren are committed to walking in righteousness and Godly wisdom. Whatever any of them achieve in life will be secondary to our thankfulness that they have embraced our faith, and will give the legacy of that faith to their families. I guess I could have titled my comments, “Legacy and Heritage,” but I was really just reflecting about my Dad and the generations that follow his faith.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will live wisely and walk faithfully in God’s truth.

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